Skip to Content
  • Save
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Print

Bento Cakes: A Sweet Gift for Any Occasion

Bento Cakes

Nothing says “celebration” quite like cake. From birthdays to weddings, it’s a food used to mark the happiest of life’s occasions. Bento cakes, or lunchbox cakes, are mini-cakes designed for just one person — and they’re perfect for any celebration, big or small.

Though the concept of bento originally comes from Japan, where a bento box refers to a single serving lunchbox of home-cooked or takeaway food (Hung, 2020), bento cakes actually originated in South Korea. (Rajan, 2022)

What Makes a Cake a Bento Cake?

In part, you can recognize a bento cake by its size: They are typically around 4 inches in diameter, though occasionally they can be as large as 6 or even 8 inches. They’re most often round — but we’ve seen some very sweet heart-shaped bentos.

Even more notably than their small size, however, you can recognize these cute cakes by their signature presentation. Minimal but adorable, bento cakes are packaged in clamshell takeout containers, surrounded by parchment paper. Ideally, they’re eaten right out of the container, adding a fun, relaxed vibe to the celebration.

A bento cake is usually composed of layers of cake sandwiched together with icing — think whipped cream, cream cheese or buttercream. Buttercream is a particular favorite, as it allows the most versatility for piping and designs. How many layers? That’s up to you! The only limit is the container itself: you want it to close without squishing the cake.

Giftable Goodness

Bento cakes are a great way to celebrate almost any occasion, from a new job to a major milestone, like a big anniversary. Making one for a birthday? Consider pairing it with some Betty Crocker baking essentials for the ultimate cake-lover’s gift.

Because of their individual size and low-key presentation, there’s no need to wait for a special occasion to bake up a bento cake. Bake a bento in place of a thank you note. Bake one just to say, “I love you.” Or bake a bento for someone special simply just because. You can customize your message and decoration to make it fit any theme or occasion. Bento cakes are a gift you don’t have to wait to give!


Building Your Own Bento Cake

Making your own bento cake is easy and, most of all, fun. It all starts with your favorite cake as the base. We love Betty Crocker™ Super Moist™ Delights Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix as a super rich, chocolatey option, but our Super Moist™ Delights Rainbow Chip Cake Mix makes a colorful and festive presentation as well.

Baking your bento cake in a 13 x 18-inch half-sheet pan will give you plenty of surface area to cut out your mini cake layers. You can use a 4-inch round cake ring or biscuit cutter to cut the layers — or really any size of your choosing. Bonus: Leftover cake scraps will make an amazing trifle or even cake pops. Two desserts in one? How great is that?!

Remember, make sure to plan the number of layers according to the size of your takeout container! Make sure your cakes don’t get too tall or your finished design will get crushed when you close your container.

Bento cake

Frosting Your Bento Cake

When you’re ready to start icing and decorating, beginning with a “crumb coat” is the key to a smooth frosted finish. A crumb coat is a super light layer of frosting that goes on first — then the cake is tucked in the refrigerator until the crumb coat is firm. Once that initial frosting firms up a bit, the crumbs are locked in place so a thicker layer of frosting can be applied more easily and neatly on top of it, leaving you with a nice smooth surface for piping.

Bento cake

Time to Decorate

Once you have your frosted bento cake, it’s time for the fun part — putting your own flair on things! Think about the occasion and the recipient, and really let your creativity run wild. Your bento cake is edible art, and the only limit is your imagination!

If you need a little creative inspiration for your bento cake decoration, Betty has your back. With so many different ways to put your own touch on your lunchbox cake, there’s the perfect medium for every dessert artist.

  • If you want to add a serious pop of color to your icing, Betty Crocker™ Gel Food Colors has an amazing array of shades that won’t thin out your frosting.
  • Our Writing Gels are another great option if you want a quick color change for your message, but don’t want to create a whole new color from scratch.
  • For the ultimate easy-as-can-be bento, try our ready to go Decorating Icing. It comes in a rainbow of colors that will help you express any sweet sentiment.
  • If you’d rather not pipe the letters, Betty has you covered with candy letters that will make your bento cakes look impressive — and super cute.
  • Top off your bento cake with Betty Crocker™ Sprinkles for a sugary finishing flourish.

Gifting Your Bento Cake

When your bento cake is adorned and ready for gifting, close your takeout box and tie it up with a ribbon for an extra sweet presentation. You may even want to include candles or a spoon in the package for an additional thoughtful touch. Include a card if you like, or write a little note right on the top of the container. However you present it, it’s sure to be the most delicious gift they receive. And, if you’re lucky, they may even share!

Now that you know all about bento cakes, it’s time to get baking! Hopefully these tips and tricks leave you feeling inspired to make something unique and delicious. If you do give bento cakes a try, we’d love to see your original creation. When you snap a pic for your social media, don’t forget to tag us @BettyCrocker for a chance to have your cake featured on our channels!

Hung, Iris. (2020, January 31) The History and Artform of the Bento Box in Osaka. Cookly.
Rajan, Deepa. (2022, May 16) Bento Cakes—the trending Korean dessert everyone loves. Deccan Herald.